Genre: Space Opera
Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild
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About The Book
In this groundbreaking work of science fiction, one man attempts to return to Earth after years of living in an off-planet structure.
Twenty-five-year-old Bryan is a student scientist living off-planet with the two men he loves. But when he senses that danger is about to befall his adopted home, Bryan wants to evacuate. Convincing one of his lovers to board a spaceship toward home, Bryan is soon confronted with the truth about his life. His journey through the void of space not only exposes his current troubled relationships but also threatens to uncover the secrets about his past. Now, Bryan must finally come to terms with who he is and how his origins might put his lovers in danger.
A story of three polyamorous lovers and one man’s secrets, Trials on the Hard Way Home is an intense and dramatic journey embracing the best in science fiction and LGBTQ+ literature.
What an odd, elegant book. Lilith Frost’s writing is very good, very restrained. She knows how to set a mood and imbues the entire narrative with a quietly surreal sense of not-quite familiar. On one hand, it is a sci-fi story that’s all about technology; on the other hand it’s about a failing relationship (very much not a romance). The trick is that neither of those things is the main thing, although you think they are for quite a long time—right to the last quarter of the book. It is a story about a journey home, physically and psychologically. It has a frustrating ending, not because it’s sort of unhappy, but because it leaves the reader (i.e. me) with so many questions, and an intense wish to learn more.
Bryan and David live together in a comfortable neighborhood on what is essentially a man-made moon in outer space called Pearway. Bryan attends the university there on a graduate fellowship. David is a very rich boy who, apparently, does little, but seems happy enough doing it. The third member of their triad, Brennan, is the sci-fi version of a stevedore, and spends months away from them working on space freighters with his brother Colm.
Brennan’s absence from their triple partnership sets up tensions between the spoiled David and the differently-wired Bryan. Differently wired seemed to suggest the autism spectrum, until well into the book it is revealed that David suffers from ASD (Acute Stress Disorder). Brennan is the mortar that binds them together, and without his presence things get difficult.
When a massive fire on Pearway (what a weird name) forces Bryan to drag David to an evacuation ship back to Earth, the story settles into a very long section focused on life in space on a vast government-funded transport. This is not Star Trek; this is mass transit through space. Technology is ever-present and all-controlling, but strangely subdued and neutral.
Then it gets weird. The last quarter of the book is full of twists and turns, changing completely in tone without really ramping up the quiet, carefully controlled mood set by the author. Don’t get me wrong—it’s never dull, never NOT interesting to read.
This future world is strangely normal-feeling. David is English, Brennan is Irish, and Bryan is American—but being American doesn’t mean what we expect it to mean. I really can’t bring myself to write any spoilers. Let’s just say one can easily see how Frost created that scenario from where we are right now, in our second pandemic year, our first post-Trump year (at this moment with the second hurricane of the fall 2021 season passing by my town).
I hope to hell Lilith Frost uses the second pandemic year to write the sequel to this. I need to know. I really would like some romance, too!
Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.
Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.
By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.
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